Nunavut declares suicide crisis in territory

Students from the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program stand on Parliament Hill as the National Inuit Youth Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami hold a Celebration of Life on World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday, September 10, 2015, in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
Students from the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program stand on Parliament Hill as the National Inuit Youth Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami hold a Celebration of Life on World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday, September 10, 2015, in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
The premier of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut officially declared suicide a crisis in the region in remarks made on Thursday.
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Taptuna’s decision came a month after an inquest into the territory’s high suicide rate – which is 10 times that of southern Canada – was held.

Among other recommendations, the jury asked the Government of Nunavut to declare suicide in the territory a public health emergency and to appoint a minister responsible for suicide prevention.

In the Nunavut Legislative Assembly on Thursday, Taptuna did both, also appointing Nunavut’s health and justice minister, Paul Okalik, as the new minister of suicide prevention.

The Government of Nunavut did not immediately return requests seeking comment for this story.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  The elephant in the room – Mental health in Arctic communities, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Finland:  OECD ‘concerned’ over high suicide rates in Finland, YLE News

Russia:  Why high suicide rates in Arctic Russia?, Blog by Deutsche Welle’s Iceblogger

Sweden: Gender stereotypes behind high suicide rate, Radio Sweden

United States:  Confronting suicide in Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

 

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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